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1981: Daredevil #168 – Elektra and Frank Miller

Daredevil_Vol_1_168Some say that Frank Miller made Batman the serious gritty character that he is today with Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. I say No. While those books helped to bring attention to that characters potential, it was really Dennis O’Neal that did that, when he wrote stories such as “Daughter of the Demon”.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think Frank Miller has his place in the comics world. Those Batman series are great. At least Year One is. I don’t dig Dark Knight Returns, but I know I’m almost alone on that. But Frank Miller is to be credited with bringing a more serious tone and depth to my favourite character – Daredevil. A character who grit and realism loans itself to a more character driven type of storytelling. That style has, since it was rebooted in 1998, allowed it to enjoy an almost flawlessly consistent run as an award-winning, high selling, top tier comic series.

Yeah, it’s no Avengers or Spider-Man. But Marvel knows that, and that is why it has gained critical praise in the form of a Netflix series. It tried the movie thing, but that didn’t work, and that’s cool. But what did work in the movie, and the series, and the books, that all started with Frank. Some things even scene for scene.

Originally Frank Miller was the artist, starting 10 issues earlier, with issue 158. I’m not a gigantic fan of his art but, before he started to really differentiate his own style from that of the regular book, he did books like this and Wolverine and they look really good. He captures shadow and musculature very well. He draws big buggy eyes, especially on women, but his shadowing and muscles are good.

But I didn’t call you all down here to talk art. I brought you here to talk story. And this is the story of Elektra Natchios. Matthew Murdock’s former love in college. When she arrives back in Matt’s life it is not as Elektra- the woman ready to change the world for the better, but as Elektra – the world-class assassin who has separated her grip with humanity and simply doing a job. Not exactly where you would want to find your ex.

Miller tells us the story of how they met in college, and fell in love. How after a year together, they attempt to save her father from a hostage situation and get her killed. And how she can’t take the heartbreak and runs away.

panel_dd168bIt’s a haunting reminder, that life isn’t all we think it is and that the things we value most can disappear in a heartbeat. Those things could be people, they could be time of happiness, they could be relationships, they might even be healed wounds.

We may think we’ve gotten over something and moved on. Matt certainly had, 167 issues and he doesn’t bring her up once. But with Elektra’s return he goes straight back to that day and relives everything again. That’s hard sometimes. It is hard enough to have to go through a heartbreak once, it is especially hard to have to go through it multiple times.

My wife (https://alloflifesquestions.wordpress.com) and I have been going through various fertility treatments in attempts of having a child. So far, no luck. Everything we had tried, drugs, testing, IUI procedures, attempt after attempt, have all been for not. And while we do this everyone around us seems to be having kids, or having problems and getting through them quickly. (I know its not true, but thats how it seems) And I can’t help but wonder if it feels like what Matt has to go through over and over again with all the women he falls for and lose. It sucks. Going through the same crappy thing over and over, getting your heart built up and let down, built up and let down, knowing that what you really want in life, for me a kid – for him to settle down and be happy, probably is never going to happen, despite everything you are putting into it. You ask yourself: Will you get what you are trying so hard for? When is what you’re doing stop being productive and start being unwise or redundant? When is it ok to throw in the towel? Are you a failure if you do? Fortunately, I do have a strong woman whom I love and loves me. We can ask these questions together and support each other. Matt just has his law partner, Foggy. And powers. Powers might make me feel a little better.

2535932-daredevil02jpg-b34668_1280wMaybe this is why Daredevil is my favourite character. I find myself caring more about Matt and feeling for the guy than any other character in comics. Especially when I get to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again, which is essentially just Marvel’s The Book of Job. But I will say this, despite the fact that Matt goes through troubles worse than most, and for the most part, holds his head up high, he continues to fight the good fight in the supersuit and the 3 piece suit with dignity. Matt Murdock is a shining example of heroism played against a backdrop of the worst scum the city has to offer.

And Miller captures it perfectly. And later David Mack, and Brian Bendis, and Ed Brubaker, and Mark Waid. In my opinion Miller started at the top of his game, because I don’t think anything he did in the rest of his career beats his Daredevil run.

I was going to write more about Elektra, but I don’t really care very much about her. So, thanks for reading!

Pictures from: http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080810165635/marveldatabase/images/e/ea/Daredevil_Vol_1_168.jpg, http://assets1.ignimgs.com/2014/09/12/2535932-daredevil02jpg-b34668_1280w.jpg, http://www.marvelmasterworks.com/dd/images/panel_dd168b.jpg

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